The Shame Of Going Back - by Henry Lawson


WHEN you've come to make your fortune, and you haven't made your
    salt,
And the reason of your failure isn't anybody's fault--
When you haven't got a billet, and the times are very slack,
There is nothing that can spur you like the shame of going back;
            Crawling home with empty pockets,
            Going back hard-up;
Oh! it's then you learn the meaning of "humiliation's cup".

When the place and you are strangers and you struggle all alone,
And you have a mighty longing for the town where you are known;
When your clothes are very shabby, and the future's very black,
There is nothing that can hurt you like the shame of going back.

When we've fought the battle bravely and are beaten to the wall,
'Tis the sneer of man, not conscience, that makes cowards of us all;
And while you are returning, oh! your brain is on the rack,
And your heart is in the shadow of the shame of going back.

When a beaten man's discovered with a bullet in his brain,
They post-mortem him, and try him, and they say he was insane;
But it very often happens that he'd lately got the sack,
And his onward move was owing to the shame of going back.

Ah! my friend, you call it nonsense, and your upper lip is curled--
You have had no real trouble in your passage through the world;
But when fortune rounds upon you and the rain is on the track,
You will learn the bitter meaning of the shame of going back;
            Going home with empty pockets,
            Going home hard-up;
Oh! it's then you'll taste the poison in humiliation's cup.